lawsuit placed a burden on the plaintiff “out of proportion to his individual stake in the matter.” [Citation.]’”’ [Citation.]” (Schwartz, supra, 155 Cal.App.3d at p. 558, emphasis supplied.)
We agree with the trial court and disagree with appellant regarding his “individual s t a k e ” i n t h e l i t i g a t i o n . 2 I n t h e f i r s t p l a c e , n o t h i n g i n t h e a u t h o r i t y r e l i e d o n b y t h e t r i a court limits the concept of a party’s personal interest in the outcome of litigation to “pecuniary” or “economic” interest. To be sure, in both Schwartz and Beach Colony II the private interest being asserted was both generally economic and specifically pertinent to property values, but neither decision holds that the concept of “personal interest” or “individual stake” in the litigation is limited to such an impact. l
It is also true that most of the cases discussing the “third requirement” of Woodland Hills have involved private litigants who are asserting, in conjunction with an alleged public interest issue, a private economic interest. An example is a decision by our colleagues in Division One of this district, Satrap v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., supra, 42 Cal.App.4th at pp. 77-79 (also collecting, at p. 78, other cases involving purely “economic” interests).
However, there is also authority applying the same rule where the litigant is advancing a non-economic, albeit personal, interest. Thus, in Christward Ministry v. County of San Diego (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 31, 49-50, the court considered an appeal by a non-profit religious organization which had partially prevailed in the trial court in a CEQA lawsuit alleging that the defendant county and others had filed an inadequate
2 Our holding thus makes it unnecessary for us to discuss the contentions of respondent Board that (1) the
litigation did not result in the enforcement of an important right affecting the public interest, (2) nor did it benefit the general public or a large class of persons, and (3) under Trope v. Katz (1995) 11 Cal.4th 274 (a case arising under Civ. Code, § 1717), appellant could not qualify for an attorneys’ fee award because he always proceeded in propria persona. In addition to being unnecessary, it is also inappropriate for us to address points (1) and (2) for the simple reason that the trial court made no findings relative to these two “requirements” for an award. However, before leaving these contentions completely, we are constrained to make an observation relative to one of them. Regarding the issue of “public benefit” (point (1) above), respondent suggests (see RB pp. 3, 6.) that it was the 1996 enactment by the City of section 311(c) of the Planning Code (rather than appellant’s litigation or anything else) which led the San Francisco Planning Commission to start paying heed to its published Guidelines. We respectfully suggest that this argument borders on the specious. As the trial court found in its 1997 partial